Control DVD Review: Tragic Life of Punk Legend Ian Curtis
By Prairie Miller
Positioning art as a irresistible surrender to a creative force which removes the self dangerously from existence and surrounding society and its conventional norms, Control intimately connects in tragic yet euphoric ways, to the mixed blessing of the radically unleashed musical imagination. First time director, UK-based Dutch celeb portrait photographer and graphic artist Anton Corbijn, explores in this offbeat, richly textured, emotionally raw musical biopic, the all too brief, troubled life of British punk legend Ian Curtis, played with delicate but scorching intensity by Sam Riley. The lead singer of Joy Division sank into a profound, agonizing clinical depression compounded by the ordeal of recurrent epilepsy, and hanged himself in the family kitchen in 1980 when he was just 23 years old.
Corbijn avoids the pitfalls of most musical biopics and their overly subjective tendency to nonjudgmentally idolize their real life protagonist, confusing the music with the man. Control manages instead a concurrent sympathy and displeasure for Curtis' acute sensitivity towards the world around him and the inspiration from which he honed his remarkable gift, yet a narcissistic insensitivity leading him to callously abandon his ordinary young wife and childhood sweetheart (Samantha Morton) and their newborn for a more hip, worshipful French journalist groupie.
Control resonates with an intelligent and impassioned focus less interested in the usual trappings and glitzy facade of fame, than the interior mental conflicts of a fragile, uncommonly talented psyche. The seeming loss of one's conscious being to creativity is manifested as a transcendent process. That is, in which fusion into an idealized state of euphoria also entails, as in the case of an on-stage physically and emotionally writhing Ian Curtis, succumbing to an abandonment to real pain and not just public performance. And loss of a sense of selfhood to an imagined adulating audience feeding upon and draining one's existence. Control may also be unique in its melancholy depiction of a misogynist mind, succumbing ironically in first fatherhood to the psychological wounds of his own male post-partum depression.
Weinstein Company/Genius Products
DVD Features: Audio Commentary - Filmmaker Commentary; The Making Of Control; Music Videos.
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